MORE LETTERS: Nine letters on election, paid sick leave, other topics
In response to Mr. Ferland
Congratulations on the great press your single op-ed garnered. You open your piece with, "When the State of Vermont holds a major public hearing about Vermont Yankee and almost no one attends, what does it mean?" I do not know how many of these events you have attended. I will guess it is since VT Energy Partnership a pro VY front group started by Entergy during the uprate hearings, maybe six.
It is not unusual for people in Chittenden and other sites far north and west of here to not attend in any numbers. People spoke in Montpelier, Randolph, Norwich, and all seats were warmed and the standing room was to the alcove at the Brattleboro site.
Brad, let me be frank, you have been paid to promote Entergy, I have not.
This meeting had nearly two weeks warning. The meeting's subject was a pre-Christmas back room deal by the Department of Public Service that basically negates the regulatory process in Vermont.
What point is it to have a regulated utility structure, if the state caves for fear of being irresponsibly treated by a company clamoring for fair trusted partner status? Fact: Entergy has not upheld agreements made before this Public Service Board. Fact: Entergy managers and liaison representatives mis-spoke under oath in Vwemont. Fact: Entergy attorney, "Entergy will not sue Vermont using federal field preemption." Fact: Entergy does not know the radiological condition of buried/underground pipes on site. Fact: Entergy VY made up the difference between underground and buried. Fact: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has no such delineation. Fact: Entergy VY was fined for a disdain of the state regulatory Board process. Fact: Entergy attorneys have been sanctioned twice by the PSB. Fact: Entergy is asking in this MOU before the board to receive fair partner status.
Truthfully, in my eyes, the only way Entergy could earn fair partner status is for Entergy to do all stated objectives of the MOU and more -- without CPG approval.
If the employees didn't know their jobs were in jeopardy after March 21, 2012, then it is now up to the state to allow the reactor to operate until the year end or not. Sorry about that, employees. What Entergy is fighting for is permission to keep the reactor open until next year. They have operated without a CPG since the aforementioned date, yet the Murtha stay allows the state to again act, after the current PSB decision.
Paid sick leave will help
I was offended by opposition testimony to paid sick leave. As a young adult, I worked hard to pay my bills and raise my son, struggling with growing debt. For most of my life, I worked in the food service industry. If I got sick, a shift was lost or I could trade shifts with a co-worker. Shift trades were my responsibility and hard to come by.
This put me in a cycle of poverty for nearly two decades. I couldn't make ends meet and put my groceries on credit cards. In 2005, I filed for bankruptcy. I was 34 years old and buried in debt from student loans and credit cards. Bankruptcy was really my only way out, yet it carries a lot of shame and indignity, on top of the resignation of knowing you'll likely never have a shot for things like a house in the future.
Do I think that if all businesses operated on a level playing field by providing guaranteed paid sick leave, then it would've cured my economic disparity? No, but it certainly would have helped. Diving deeper into debt because of a few lost hours is ridiculous. I really have a hard time understanding why this basic right is even in dispute. Whether you have paid sick leave or not, I urge all citizens of conscience to reach out now, because we all are effected by the lack of paid sick leave, and we've waited long enough for work with dignity.
Fisher RIF program thanks donors
The Fisher Elementary School Reading is Fundamental program coordinators would like to extend their sincere gratitude to Bank of Bennington, Mack Molding, The Orvis Company and Quatra-Tek for their generous donations to the Fisher RIF program. Without the support of companies like these, this essential literacy program would not exist in our school.
The goal of RIF is to spark students' interests in books and to promote a lifelong love of reading. One student told us, "I like to read, because books make you imagine other worlds and other places. Thank you!" We too, thank you! This book distribution program would not be possible without your support.
Health care should be accessible to all
While details regarding the transition to a single-payer health care system remain, we cannot forget the benefits of these changes. The Vermont Republican State Committee resolved that Vermont's health care exchange should be optional and provide more insurance options. While the traditional arguments of market-based health care are present, the abuse of Vermont citizens by insurance companies remains unquestioned. Not only are current health insurance costs unaffordable, but it is essential that all Vermonters have equitable access to health benefits. For-profit health care is not only immoral, but also unsustainable. With a single-payer system, Vermonters can insure affordability, transparency, and mandatory coverage for essential benefits, including dental care, which 70,000 adult Vermonters currently can't afford. Private insurance companies are unnecessary middlemen in our health care system, and a transition to single-payer is the solution needed to remedy these injustices. By democratically working with our state representatives, we can ensure the transition to a single-payer health care system is completed with as few petty objections as possible.
The United States remains the only developed nation with privatized health care, and we must continue leading our country towards a public, more equitable, system.
Support Keane for Select Board
I would very much like to recommend Michael Keane for your vote to the Select Board, election scheduled for March 4. I have worked with Michael on several boards such as the BBC and Bennington Chamber and found him to be well considered in his approach to difficult matters and a positive influence in our community. Michael has devoted much time and attention to the quality of life in Bennington and to improving business opportunities in our area. He is a very good person and cares about Bennington. I think he would be a real asset to the Select Board.
THOMAS SCOTT KREUTZ
Bill would help restore affordable higher education
The state legislature is currently considering S.40, a bill to establish a committee to find ways to restore a reasonable level of funding for higher education. I strongly support its adoption. Vermont and its young people will suffer greatly if such a plan is not developed and executed.
We have increasingly failed to invest in the state's future, allowing higher education funding to dwindle almost to the vanishing point. When I started working at Castleton State College 37 years ago the state provided more than half of the Vermont State Colleges' budget. The percentage is now just under 13 percent, a level that ranks 49th out of the 50 states. Where does the difference come from? Mostly, the avalanche of debt our sons and daughters take on. Despite the state colleges' extraordinary efforts to trim spending -- an effort that, if continued, will inevitably result in a decline in quality -- student debt has skyrocketed. 63 percent of Vermont college students graduate in debt. The average student owes almost $29,000. What a way to start out in life! Yet the earning power of a college degree holder remains so far greater than that of a high school-only grad and the unemployment rate so much lower, what choice do most of our kids have? We depend on these students, 84% of whom stay in Vermont after they graduate, for the future of the state -- the innovators, the teachers, the journalists, the business leaders, and, yes, the legislators. We need to provide them with an affordable higher education, one that will empower them to give back to the state without keeping them in debilitating debt half of their adult lives.
Paid sick time is a basic right
I used to have full-time work, but because I had seizures I started to work only part time. I also have a disability and it is hard to find consistent work at all. When I have been able to find work that works for me, my employer has never offered paid sick days. I know there are a lot of other people like me who work part time, either because they need to or they can only find part-time work. And even though we only work part time, we get sick too. And we also have the right to have paid sick days. Right now our state legislature is working on a paid sick days bill. I support the right for all workers to work with dignity and take a day off when they need it, without fear of losing their job or not making enough to pay bills. I urge my Representatives Keenan and McCarthy and Senators Collins and McAllister to also support this basic right for all workers.
Vote for Keane
I'm writing to endorse Michael A. Keane for Bennington Select Board.
If you want to elect someone who has demonstrated his ability and willingness to serve our community and our state, Michael is the best choice on the ballot. Michael's civic involvement is proof of his commitment to serve. He was appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin to serve on the Vermont Economic Progress Council. He also serves on the Board of Listers of our town. He is past president of the Better Bennington Corporation and is one of the founding members of the Bennington Economic Development Partners, focused on finding ways to improve Bennington's economy. That shows, as Michael says, that he is "Keen on Bennington." Michael believes that our community has the strengths and potential to be a great place to live, work, and play. He wants to maximize those strengths so that Bennington can thrive for every person here.
Please cast your vote for Michael A. Keane. His name is the last one in alphabetical order on the ballot. Fill in the circle right there for him. You too can be "Keen on Bennington."
Brenda Jones Real Estate Group
Lawmakers are wasting time
I am writing in response to the actions taken by the Vermont House on a state ban on adults using cell phones while driving. During a time when Vermont is facing real challenges, our lawmakers are spending their time on "nanny" legislation instead of trying to tackle material issues. Vermont needs to grow its grand list, add good jobs and attract business. We must act to keep corporations from being able to use the easy argument that Vermont is not interested in business as an excuse to leave the state. I implore my fellow Vermonters to compel our lawmakers to switch their focus from fining and taxing its citizens to creating a more prosperous and forward-thinking environment for all of us.
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